SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A April 30, 2016
SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A April 30, 2016
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General Studies – 1;
Topic: Urbanization – problems and remedies
1) Recently, the Union government replaced the Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000 with a new set of rules, the Solid Waste Management (SWM) Rules, 2016. Critically evaluate new rules. (200 Words)
The country generates 62 million tonnes of waste annually –
Increase in ambit:
- Ambit stretches beyond municipal areas and now include special economic zones, urban agglomerations, areas under the control of the Indian Railways and airports.
- There is a special mention of places of pilgrimage and of religious and historical importance.
Waste treatment at source:
- This was a major step in waste management in India which had been neglected before
- Onus on large waste generators like hotels and industrial establishments to segregate waste at source.
- They now have to segregate waste into three streams:
- dry and
- domestic hazardous waste (mosquito repellents, cleaning agents, diapers, napkins).
Segregation of waste :
- The biggest problem of waste collection in India is that people do not segregate dry and wet waste, shifting the burden on collectors. Seen this way, the rules seem to be a move in the right direction.
- Hotels and restaurants will also be required to segregate biodegradable waste and ensure that food waste is used for composting or biomethanation.
- The rules enjoin market associations and resident welfare associations to segregate plastic, tin, glass, paper and recyclable waste.
Integration of ragpickers:
- They talk about the integration of ragpickers, waste pickers and other informal sector players.
They stipulate zero tolerance for throwing, burning or burying solid waste on streets or dumping them in waterbodies.
1.But all homilies for decentralised approaches are accompanied by a thrust on centralised strategies; setting up of waste-to-energy plants for one.
- But waste-to-energy plants in the country have been beset with serious problems.
- Typically, waste-to-energy plants require waste with a calorific count of 1,400–1,500 kcal/kg while the calorific value of waste in India is not more than 700 kcal/kg.
- The overwhelming reliance in the rules on waste-to-energy plants, in contrast, ignores the fact that such plants are beset with serious pollution problems. High mercury content in urban wastes in the country makes waste-to-energy plants highly polluting outfits.
- A 2012 study by Chintan, a Delhi-based non-profit
- points out that after the opening of a waste-to-energy plant in Okhla in Delhi, the number of trash collectors working at the landfill near the plant fell from 450 to 150.
- Many families who remained, said they took their children out of school in order to have more hands available to comb through the heaps of ash for valuable chunks of metal slag.
2.Appropriate segregation at source, as mandated by the rules, can take care of a large measure of the problem. But while the rules do talk of the salience of such a measure, they fail to provide direction.
3.No incentives: The rules ignore the recommendation of a Planning Commission committee which in its 2014 report talked of precise measures through which the informal sector could be incorporated into waste management plans by incentivising the informal sector and the ragpicker. While the new rules do talk of punitive measures, they have little by way of incentives.
General Studies – 2
Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education, Human Resources
Government’s initiatives to encourage technology in education:
- Taking inspiration from The NASA’s Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE), one of the early initiatives to harness communication technology for primary and adult education India developed Indian National Satellite System (INSAT,) the first Indian satellite.
- The entanglement of the Indian space programme with the idea of national-level technological infrastructure for education has continued since. The EDUSAT, launched in 2004, was a collaborative project between ISRO and MHRD to drive satellite-based education across disadvantaged and remote regions of the country.
- The University Grants Commission (UGC) Countrywide Classroom, Computer Literacy and Studies in Schools, and Computer Literacy and Awareness Programme have been huge success
- The revised Programme of Action of the National Policy on Education (1986) reiterated the need for increased attention to upgrading education technology infrastructure, as well as the development of electronic content for the same.
- An online learning portal called “Sakshat,” eventually became one of the pillars of the National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technologies (NMEICT)
- The National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (NMEICT)
- Teaching and learning process for the benefit of all the learners in Higher Education Institutions in any-time any-where mode.
- Content generation and connectivity along with provision for access devices for institutions and learners are the major components of the mission
- So far, nearly 400 universities have been provided 1 Gbps connectivity or have been configured under the scheme and more than 14,000 colleges have also been provided VPN connectivity.
- IIT-Kanpur has developed Brihaspati, an open source e-learning platform
- Aakash Tablet:
- A 2011 report by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD)–Aakash developed an affordable device aimed at students in India, and has produced an entirely new market niche of sub-US$100 tablets.
- This “low-cost access-cum-computing device” was aimed at bypassing the institutional, bureaucratic, and infrastructural barriers to access to quality higher education. Its main audience were students in disadvantaged regions and non-elite institutions, as well as self-learners.
- The remarkable success of the Aakash project goes for normalising and framing the tablet computer as familiar, and almost essential, object for personal learning and development.
- Apart from presenting the tablet computer as an everyday media object, the NMEICT and the Aakash project played a crucial role in normalising the notion of online self-learning, and thus that of the online, in the Indian public imagination.
- Experts remarked that the Aakash tablet was not an “iPad for the poor,” it was the “the computer and Internet of the masses
- A new tablet now called Udaan, is launched in 2015 aiming at girl students at the higher secondary level, priced at Rs 10,000 (against Rs 2,500 of Aakash), and distributed only to 1,000 students.
- Digital india:
- Creation of a knowledge based society:
- Digital India has been envisioned as an ambitious umbrella programme to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.
- The government has introduced initiatives such as e-education, e-basta, Nand Ghar which will impart education using technologies including smartphones, mobile apps and internet services in far-flung areas where teachers might not to be present
- Further, 13 lakh Balwadis in India are planned to be converted into Nand Ghar where Anganwadi educators will be trained to use digital tools as teaching aids
- e-basta is another cherished initiative by the government aimed at making school books accessible in digital form as e-books to be read on tablets and laptops.
- Improve attendance in schools:
- According to Custom Data Tables, ASER and Census of India 2011 survey has concluded that almost 20 per cent children aged between 6 and 8 years cannot read letters or words and are unable to recognise numbers.
- With support from Qualcomm Wireless Reach Initiative, Sesame Workshop in India has demonstrated that children in classes 1 and 2 who were provided with games on digital devices, both in classrooms and at homes showed significant gains in their Hindi language, comprehension and numeracy skills amongst others.
- Further the games improved attendance, and helped with teachers becoming more familiar with technology as a teaching tool.
- Bridge digital divide:
- With approximately 131 million cellular-phone households in the country, India believes that delivering education through the digital platform to children and teachers could be a potential way to bridge the education deficit.
- Creation of a knowledge based society:
Failure of government’s intervention:
- Even after 20 years of the introduction of computers in schools across India, a 2006 report on education technology by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) noted that computer-based teaching and learning in an actual classroom setting remains more of a “spectator sport.”.
- Failure of aakash–
- The actualisation of the Aakash device, however, was continuously delayed and blocked by conflicts between the governmental and non-governmental actors, strong skepticism from the media, and several changes in the state’s approach to the project
- raises deep concerns about the present state and the future of the technological infrastructure—and the imagination—for mass education in the country
- The motivations and goals that informed these mammoth projects become more and more difficult to decipher when we look at the relatively poor attention given to the production of content.
- Careful monitoring and documentation of how such content is being received and utilised by the actual learners and their educators was not prioritised; and whenever undertaken, such exercises revealed the deep lack of pedagogic concerns at the heart of these education technology programmes.
Role of technological innovations in imparting quality education :
1.Access to variety of learning resources :
In the era of technology. IT aids plenty of resources to enhance the teaching skills and learning ability. With the help of IT now it is easy to provide audio visual education. The learning resources are being widens and widen.
2.Immediacy to information
Now in the year of computers and web networks the pace of imparting knowledge is very very fast and one can be educated anywhere at any time.
3.Any time learning
IT has made it easy to study as well as teach in groups or in clusters. With online people can unite together to do the desired task. Efficient postal systems, the telephone (fixed and mobile), and various recording and playback systems based on computer technology all have a part to play in educational broadcasting in the new millennium
5.Multimedia approach to education :The growth of audio-visual education has reflected developments in both technology and learning theory.
Internets support thousands of different kinds of operational and experimental services one of which is online library. We can get plenty of data on this online library.
distance learning widens access for students unable for whatever reason (course availability, geographical remoteness, family circumstances, individual disability) to study alongside others.
8.Better accesses to children with disabilities
Information technology has brought drastic changes in the life of disabled children.
The integration of information technology in teaching is a central matter in ensuring quality in the educational system.
- Private sector participation
- like HP’s Technology for Teaching Grant has transformed the ICT infrastructure in institutes like Anna University and Jadavpur University.
- An increasing number of private players like Hughes Global Education, Manipal Education Group, Centum Learning, UEI Global, Shiv Nadar University, etc. are offering online education courses in association with leading Central and State Universities leveraging with good ICT infrastructure
Failure of technology in imparting quality education:
- India faces the challenge of low technology and people readiness in order to realize the true potential of ICT in higher education with penetration of computers and internet, especially in the rural areas being extremely poor.
- Penetration of technology in higher education is extremely poor because of huge IT infrastructure shortcomings according to UGC survey
- There are linguistic barriers that need to be overcome to improve the ICT adoption and penetration.Out of 368 million rural Indians who are literate only 17% speak English
- If future models of learning means encouraging young people to spend prolonged periods in front of faceless computer screens, exposed to largely unregulated material in an inherently unsafe environment, then that is clearly not the way forward.
- Education is much more complex than that. It is about the trust and bond between a teacher and young person (and parents) that creates the environment where learning can occur and grow. Virtual learning simply cannot do that
- Individual attention to the student is not given as is the case with traditional teaching methods
- Good teachers inspire our young people to be lifelong learners, creating a culture of independent enquiry with their enthusiasm and passion. Technology can’t do that
Topic: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
The Constitution (Fifty-second Amendment) Act, 1985 added the Tenth Schedule to the Indian Constitution to curb the growing tendency of political defections by parliamentarians and legislators from one party to another after elections.
- The Tenth Schedule has been largely successful in curbing political defections of MPs and MLAs
- The anti-defection law has enabled the political parties to have stronger grip on their members which many times has resulted into preventing them to vote for the lure of money of ministerial birth .
- Ensures that candidates elected with party support and on the basis of party manifestoes remain loyal to the party policies.
- Also promotes party discipline.
- It also provides stability to the government by preventing shifts of party allegiance
- The original Tenth Schedule, however, failed to take into account the ingenuity of immorality .While penalising individual acts of defection, it recognised the principle of splits whereby if one-third of the members of a legislative party broke away and formed a separate group or joined another political party, they could continue as members of the legislature.
- preventing parliamentarians from changing parties, it reduces the accountability of the government to the Parliament and the people.
- Interferes with the member’s freedom of speech and expression by curbing dissent against party policies.
- it is also resulted into its unintended outcome i.e. the curtailing to a certain extent the role of the MP or member of state legislature.
- It is culminated into absence of constructive debates on critical policy issues.
- The whip has become all the more powerful and has to be followed in all circumstances
- Other issues:
- Matters like whether the Speaker is the right authority to adjudicate matters of defection
- the rationality of distinguishing individual and group defection, and illogical discrimination between an independent member and a nominated member plagued the law.
- No proper differentiation between “dissent” and “defection” create problem
91st Amendment Act, 2003:
- Earlier, a ‘defection’ by one-third of the elected members of a political party was considered a ‘merger’. The 91st Constitutional Amendment Act, 2003, changed this. So now at least two-thirds of the members of a party have to be in favor of a “merger” for it to have validity in the eyes of the law.
- The 91st Amendment also makes it mandatory for all those switching political sides – whether singly or in groups – to resign their legislative membership. They now have to seek re-election if they defect.
Suggestions and Recommendations :
1.Dinesh Goswami Committee on electoral reforms (1990)
Disqualification should be limited to cases where
- a member voluntarily gives up the membership of his political party,
- (b) a member abstains from voting, or votes contrary to the party whip in a motion of vote of confidence or motion of no-confidence.
- The issue of disqualification should be decided by the President/ Governor on the advice of the Election Commission.
- Halim Committee on anti-defection law (1998)
- The words ‘voluntarily giving up membership of a political party’ be comprehensively defined.
- Restrictions like prohibition on joining another party or holding offices in the government be imposed on expelled members.
3.Law Commission (170th Report, 1999)
- Provisions which exempt splits and mergers from disqualification to be deleted.
- Pre-poll electoral fronts should be treated as political parties under anti-defection law.
- Political parties should limit issuance of whips to instances only when the government is in danger.
- Election Commission :
Decisions under the Tenth Schedule should be made by the President/ Governor on the binding advice of the Election Commission.
5.Constitution Review Commission (2002)
- Defectors should be barred from holding public office or any remunerative political post for the duration of the remaining term.
- The vote cast by a defector to topple a government should be treated as invalid.
6.The phrase “voluntarily giving up membership” is too vague and needs comprehensive revision. Political parties should limit issuance of whips to instances only when the government is in danger
Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
- The quota signals the political failure of the various carrot-and-stick measures attempted by the State government to get on top of their long agitation.
- The government’s strategy for appeasing the Patidars is a replica of the solution it had proffered for Gurjars of Rajasthan. In 2008, Rajasthan government had extended 5 percent reservation to a special category of backwards that included Gurjars and another 14 percent quota to economically backward classes.
- Against Supreme Court judgement -legislation is not likely to pass judicial scrutiny. In Indra Sawhney v. Union of India,the Supreme Court had limited the total quota to 50 per cent,
- Characteristic of Vote bank politics before elections in 2017.
- Notably, the demand for reservations by the largely prosperous Patidars has little to do with their present socio-economic status. Their agitation, like the one waged by Jats, has been directed more at the reducing socio-economic “gap” between them and the OBCs
- Also the students in the Unreserved category will be under excessive pressure and competition .Upper caste youth frustration for lacks of jobs will be alleviated because of this
- Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) of the unreserved categories of the society have expressed their inability to compete with the higher strata who are economically sound and as a result of which, such EWS feel disadvantaged.
- Economic backward upper caste people are many who are stuck on poverty when reservation provided classes benefitted from the opportunities arisen
What is needed?
If the policy of reservations must be revisited, then the way to do this is by calling for a review of the list of OBCs and restructuring the creamy layer of exclusion to benefit the really deserving.
Topic: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States
Original intent of the article was to use it as a ‘emergency provision’. Ideally, Article 356 should only be invoked in case of “failure of constitutional machinery” in the state.
Article 356 is one of the major tools in the hands of Union Government enabling it to check any disruptive and separatist tendencies in their infancy. In order to keep our unique Federal system with its strong Unitary features in fact this potent medicine cannot be dispensed with.
There are instances especially after 1990’s when coalition governments came to the fore the misuse of article 356 reduced. Several regional parties influenced the decision-making process at the centre.There are enough examples to support this thesis. In 1998, when the Vajpayee-led coalition government wanted to impose central rule in Bihar, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal, its regional allies in the cabinet—Telugu Desam Party and Shiromani Akali Dal—managed to scuttle the government’s plans.
Reasons for misuse of Article 356:
- Since independence, it has been used over 100 times. Perfectly legitimate state governments have sometimes been fired to either make them fall in line or to give the Union government’s own party a chance at obtaining power in the state
- The abuse of Article 356 to remove state governments run by parties in opposition to the one ruling in Delhi had become rampant.
- The deeply fragmented internal politics of the states like Manipur, as well as long periods of violence, have often enabled the Union government to impose its fiat on the state.
- Besides Manipur, the politically crucial states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, with their fragmented polity, have been on the centre’s radar for long.
- Abuse of the position of Governor:
- The ruling party at centre appoints Governor .Hence, Governor is regarded to be the agent of centre rather than first citizen of the concerned state.
- Governor, as appointed by centre will act as per the will of centre and can do favour by sending a report against party which is not related to ruling party at centre.
- As referred by the Governor, President may give permission to use article 356 on that state.
- Defection of members and No proper floor test allowed by the governments to prove their majority are quoted as other reasons for imposition of this article.
- Flagrant disregard for legal, constitutional and administrative pronouncements by politicians and political parties.”
- The SC laid down certain guidelines so as to prevent the misuse of Article 356 of the constitution.
- The majority enjoyed by the Council of Ministers shall be tested on the floor of the House.
- Centre should give a warning to the state and a time period of one week to reply
- Fast judicial scrutiny in the recent cases on Arunanchal Pradesh and Uttarakhand as well are needed.
- The question is of the willingness of the judiciary to cut through the political thicket in time to be of consequence to the political process. In the absence of a strong and effective judicial interdict, a majority government may well be tempted to brave adverse comments
- The Sarkaria Commission gave its report in 1988. A series of concrete steps to strengthen federalism and prevent the misuse of Article 356 were given by the commission
- The malady of misuse of this Article 356 can be checked effectively by making some changes in Article 155 – 156 with respect to rules regarding offices of Governors of Indian States.
- A governor should be appointed by the president from a panel of three eminent persons suggested by the chief minister, satisfying the criteria mentioned in the Sarkaria Commission needs to be considered seriously
- Decision by prez
- He has to consider the objective criteria behind the centre’s intention for imposing article 356 as in 1997, President K.R. Narayanan, in a first for any Indian president, returned to the cabinet its recommendation to impose direct central rule in Uttar Pradesh. Later, he returned a similar recommendation by another central government to dismiss the state government in Bihar.
- Both Sarkaria and Justice venkatachalaiah commissions have said that “Federalism” needs to be strengthened, even at the cost of more decentralization and greater regional autonomy, to prevent the disintegration of the nation through violence and anarchy.
- Imbibing ethical norms in the politicians to have justifiable reasons behind using this provision
- The SC laid down certain guidelines so as to prevent the misuse of Article 356 of the constitution.
Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
6) “Many see the formalisation of the Indo–US military relationship as a great leap forward in making India a great power. It is presumed that these developments will open the floodgates to American military technology for the budding Indian military-industrial complex.” Do you think India’s growing proximity to US will endanger its independent foreign policy? Critically comment. (200 Words)
Yes,it is going to endanger India’s foreign policy:
- In the past
- India further granted asylum to the Dalai Lama at the behest of the US.
- India’s vote in the United Nations favouring the Soviets on the Hungarian issue is often taken as a measure of India’s non-alignment. – However the Indo–US military and intelligence collaboration on the issue of Tibet is conveniently ignored .
- LEMOA appears to be a watered-down version of the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA), which the US signs with other military allies to facilitate smooth exchange of logistics support, supplies and services on a reciprocal basis
- Seen as a Clear departure from Indian non alignment policy which can trigger reactions in China Russia
- India is the largest importer of defence equipment from US can lead to excessive dependence on US
- India is still in infancy in defence capabilities when compared to US ,So US can dictate terms on India.
- Increase in defence expenditure to match with the US defence equipments.
- Has the potential to drag India into conflicts where India is not ready for or not comfortable with like the South China Sea
- Pakistan has already declared India and the US as allies, and is planning to multiply its military and nuclear arsenal to meet the forthcoming challenges
- The LSA will not allow US troops to operate from Indian bases without the consent of New Delhi. The possibility of India being ensnared into effecting regime changes in the war zones of the Middle East is out of the question.
- The signing of these agreements should be strictly made contingent on US assurance on transfer of technology..
- India has clear stand bout its foreign policy that it does not form military alliances with any country.As a country dedicated to non alignment movement US endangering India’s foreign policy is only a farce
- Pakistan factor:
- The Americans have made it clear through their actions that they value Islamabad as a military ally.
- Handing over f16 to Pakistan ensures that so India knows its limits with US
- China factor –
- India hedges by deepening relations with the US and status quo middle powers such as Australia.
- Both sides feel that they have much to gain from each other than from the others. Even as India is irritated by the US-Pakistan ties, so is it by the China-Pakistan relations.
- But India, China and the US know that they have to deal with each other and that it is the economic equations among themselves that are crucial, more even than the military calculations.
- Russia factor:
- India has one true strategic partner – Russia. That relationship is deep,PM recently called Russia ‘a pillar of strength’ and India’s ‘most important defence partner.’
- India may not be able to let itself be drawn into the US-led global military configuration. It is for the simple reason that India is much too large a country to play second fiddle to the Americans
- The rejection by India of the offer of US to participate in joint patrols in the South China Sea also shows that India is not going to compromise its foreign policy just because it has strong relations with US.
- This would only enhance Indias role in the regions of IOR
- The fresh legalised impetus to the Indo–US intimacy gives the Indian navalist a fresh dose of confidence to prepare for a major fleet engagement against the Chinese navy.
General Studies – 3
7) A recent research says that the global decline in the population of several wild animal species in the present era, termed as “Anthropocene Defaunation”, is among the most widespread drivers of Earth’s current biodiversity crisis. In this regard, examine the relationship between fauna and carbon storage in tropical forests. (200 Words)
- Researchers have found that big animals leave an impact on the carbon storage potential of tropical forests around the world and this is determined by their seed dispersal.
- The study says that the global decline in the population of several wild animal species in the present era, termed as “Anthropocene Defaunation”, is among the most widespread drivers of Earth’s current biodiversity
- Many tropical forest trees depend on large fruit-eating creatures such as elephants, tapirs, monkeys and hornbills for dispersing their sizeable seeds. Due to hunting and forest degradation, large wildlife in tropical forests across the world are in decline.
- Tree species dependent on these animals for seed dispersal also tend to decline, getting replaced over time by species whose seeds are dispersed by other modes.
- It has been observed that the abundance of tree species can be reduced by 60 per cent due to the decline of large vertebrate frugivores,( fruit-eating animals, large mammalian and bird species.)including the large-seeded tree species of the tropical forests which are dependent on such animals for seed dispersal.
- Such losses of large-seeded trees could substantially change carbon storage in tropical forests around the world as they contribute to form a huge “carbon sink” thereby altering their ability to regulate our world’s climate and regulating the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration.
- Large-seeded trees have higher carbon storage potential than small-seeded trees as the former attain bigger size as adults and are capable of storing more carbon.
- Studies from Africa and America:
- In Africa, where the majority of tree species are dispersed by animals, losses of large-seed dispersers can reduce carbon storage by decreasing the volume of vegetation biomass.
- In some regions, especially the Americas, carbon losses may be heightened further due to declines of tree species with high wood density following losses of large seed dispersers. If 50 per cent of all trees dispersed by large animals were replaced over time by trees with other modes of seed dispersal, carbon storage in these forests would be reduced by 2 per cent. This is roughly equivalent to 14 years’ worth of Amazonian deforestation
- However It depends on the type of forest as well. A relatively large proportion of large-statured tree species in tropical forests of South East Asia depend on wind and gravity rather than animals for seed dispersal. In these forests, the loss of animal dispersers will not have as pronounced an effect on carbon storage.
- This study also made an important inference to provide new insights into policies like REDD+, which primarily focuses on reducing carbon loss by protecting tropical forests from deforestation and logging.
- The study highlights the importance of conserving large wild animals in the tropical forests as part of forest protection strategy for storing carbon and reducing emissions. This will ultimately help us to mitigate climate change.
General Studies – 4
Topic: Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world